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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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JD Rucker

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Before the Dark Post Bandwagon Starts to Roll...

Badnwagon

Every time I think the cat is out of the bag, I talk to enough dealers and vendors to convince me that it's still only a small percentage. As a vendor, this makes me happy. As a car guy, this makes me a little sad.

Dark post advertising on social media has such a high verifiable return on investment that it's amazing how few are utilizing it. Then again, I've seen a good number of dark post campaigns that were simply not handled well enough to be powerful that were built by both dealers and vendors. I'll go into the full details in a future post, but since this post is going up right before Easter, it's best to simply touch on the basics.

"Dark posts" are unpublished posts on Facebook and advertised posts on Twitter. They do not appear on the public pages or profiles, but they do appear in the targeted news feeds and timelines of the target audiences. This is what makes them so powerful. There's nothing better than targeting in-market shoppers for your brand with messages intended to drive them directly to the inventory on your website.

Isn't that what digital advertising is really all about?

There is a bandwagon that is preparing to roll out. This bandwagon will include many of the top current vendors. New vendors will pop up because of the opportunities that dark posts bring to the table. It will start rolling in weeks or months, not years. Will your dealership be on it?

If you get ahead of the bandwagon, a couple of good things will happen. You'll be able to take advantage fo the market before it gets saturated. More importantly, your experience and established history will give you the edge over competitors.

Knowing what I've seen in the industry over the past two decades, I would predict that around 20% of dealers will be using dark posts by this time next year. The following year, it will likely be over 50% depending on what changes are made between now and then.

Anybody who tells you they can predict the future of the internet is a fool, so let me add my disclaimer: I could definitely be totally wrong. The only I have to go by is experience and trends. Don't take my word for it, though. Research dark posts for yourself (or simply wait until my post next week that goes into more details).

Some dealers hop on the bandwagon when it comes around. Others get the head start before the bandwagon even forms. Where will you be when the race begins?

Jason Stum
Good stuff here JD. Clearly the role of social media in the dealership (and small business in general is changing). To me there's two parts of the new social equation. Part 1: Community Use your social networks to nurture a community of your customers, employees, local businesses, residents & leaders. Give these potential members of your community true benefits for being a part of it. Make it special and make it worthwhile. Earning (or paying for) a LIKE or FOLLOW is the (relatively) easy part. Maintaining that engagement on an ongoing basis requites dedicated time and resources, which is the hard part. Part 2: Marketing & Advertising The second half of the equation speaks directly to what you're talking about, JD. Facebook is fantastic for targeting the right message, to the right person and the right time. By utilizing dark post advertising you can take advantage of the mountains of data that Facebook keeps on all of us to reach a specific audience at a (comparatively) low cost. I do agree that there's the potential for this space to become saturated though. If it became a defacto standard for of advertising at the dealership ala SEM, Display, etc, then look out! :)
Chris Comisky
The scary thing is that 3rd party data targeting on facebook began in May of 2013 and has been relevant from Day 1. We have been using it to drive traffic and... wait for it... LEADS from the beginning. Dealers continue to complain that they don't get anything from Facebook. How do we as an industry just not get this? Oh well, everyone keep buying Dealix leads for $20, I'll make my own for $3 a pop.
Lauren Moses
DS seriously needs a like button for comments like ASAP! @Chris, that is exactly my point I'm fighting against now. Facebook is such a huge market that most common dealerships really aren't getting right just yet. I follow quite a few dealerships and only a handful or so are really doing a good job. Sad to ours is one that is lacking but its a working progress so I'm by no means berating others who struggle with facebook. It's just a huge area where dealerships should really be able to be cost effective and they tend to ignore it or don't have someone who knows what they are doing it.
Megan Barto
Great Post, JD - but someone remember to come back to this post in a year & see if his percentages are correct. :-)

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